Headlines – 3/30/2007

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 30, 2007

The Panolian: HEADLINES – March 30, 2007

  From the 03/30/07 issue of The Panolian   –   

Shooting in Greenhill injures two
     Panola County sheriff’s investigator Albert Perkins removes crime scene tape Tuesday morning from the scene of a double shooting at an apartment at Green Hill Circle. A 65-year-old man has been arrested for the crime.
By Billy Davis

With help from witnesses, law enforcement officers on Tuesday morning quickly captured and arrested a 65-year-old man who allegedly shot and wounded two women near Sardis.

Panola sheriff’s investigators believe Earl Edwards, armed with a single-shot .410 shotgun, gained entry into an apartment at Green Hill Circle by claiming he needed to use their bathroom. He then allegedly shot two women who lived inside the residence.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Green Hill Circle is located just west of the Sardis city limits. Edwards’ address is listed as nearby Atkins Street.

The injured women were Raneitha Dishmon and Valencia Cooper, an official confirmed. Both victims were flown from the scene to The Med, where Dishmon was reportedly treated and released Tuesday. Cooper was reported in stable condition at the hospital on Wednesday.

"So far we know that Edwards will be charged with aggravated assault for the first victim, who has since been released," sheriff’s investigator Mark Whitten said. Any additional charges depend on the outcome of the second victim, he said.

The investigator said the department’s 911 log shows law enforcement officers arrived on the scene at 7:27 a.m., seven minutes after the sheriff’s dispatcher received a 911 phone call. Edwards was arrested near the scene of the shooting at 7:36.

"The witnesses described his clothing, and he was within visibility of the scene," Whitten said.

Edwards did not resist arrest, he said.

SP officials hoping test scores improve
By Billy Davis

The serious springtime ritual of state achievement tests is still weeks away at South Panola High School, but school faculty is already spreading the word to students and their parents about readying for the upcoming assessments.

Beginning April 24, South Panola High students will begin a marathon of mandatory state testing that will cover four subjects in four days: English II (multiple choice test) on April 24; Biology II on April 25; U.S. History on April 26; and Algebra I on April 27.

In Mississippi, public high school students earn the traditional Carnegie points for graduation, and the state Department of Education also requires a passing grade on each state test in order to receive a high school diploma.

Earlier this week many SPHS students took an English II test that included a writing assignment. State-required vocational tests were also given this week.

SPHS principal Dr. Gearl Loden said he is publicizing the April 24 – April 27 testing dates to hopefully give employers plenty of time to rearrange work schedules for high schoolers.

"We want to get the message out to parents and employers: make sure our students get plenty of sleep and eat well during test week," said Loden.

Loden and other faculty are also hoping good state test scores will help the school achieve its long-term goal of a jump from Level 3 to Level 4 status.

"Last year, if 40 more kids had scored just a little bit better, we might have made Level 4," said SPHS activities director Kaye Smythe.

The state test scores range from a barely-passing score of 300, known as minimal passing, to a perfect score of 500. A score of 400 is rated as proficient.

South Panola last year earned an overall score of 379, up from 354 the previous year, said Smythe.

The high school rewarded top-scoring students last year with everything from field trips to a pair of $100 raffles and is repeating those incentives this year.

This year, the school is encouraging students to take advantage of several test prep initiatives that include:

  • After-school tutoring every Tuesday afternoon for all students
  • In-school tutoring twice a week for students who show promise of a proficient score
  • Free Internet access from anywhere to a test-prep site,
  • After-school access to the school’s media center until 6 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Loden acknowledged that the test prep opportunities are "student initiated," and some students may pass up the opportunity for help. But the principal hopes parents will learn about the upcoming tests and encourage their children to take advantage of the tutoring and study time.

"All we ask is that students do their best on the tests," Loden said. "I think parents, if they know about these tests, will ask for the very same thing."

(The following questions are taken from the test prep Web site, USAtestprep.com. South Panola High School is encouraging its students to use the Web site to help them prepare for upcoming state tests).

Algebra I
1. What is the volume of a cereal box that is 2 inches thick, 12 inches high and 10 inches wide?
     A. 240 cubic inches
     B. 24 cubic inches
     C. 120 cubic inches
     D. 200 cub inches

U.S. History
The Battle of Midway was significant in World War II because it marked the end of _______________.
     A. Britain’s isolation from the war on the mainland
          of Europe
     B. the German advance into France
     C. The Japanese eastward advance in the Pacific
     D. the Japanese assault on China

Biology I
To find the density of an object you would use a graduated cylinder to find what characteristic of the object?
     A. Weight
     B. Volume
     C. Mass
     D. Length

(Answers: Algebra I, A; U.S. History, C; Biology I, B).

Code Enforcement targets trash, junk
By Billy Davis

The azaleas are blooming.
The birds are singing.

And neighbors are complaining to the City of Batesville about the junky, trash-filled yard next door.

"This time of year, our phones begin ringing and the complaints start coming," said John McCollum, code enforcement officer for the city.

In the code enforcement office, McCollum is solely responsible for enforcing the City of Batesville’s junk ordinance, which forbids non-working automobiles and trashy or junky yards.

Complaints can be made to the code enforcement office at 563-6621. The complainant remains anonymous, he said.

Noticing that the number of complaint calls are increasing, McCollum wanted to warn property owners that they may hear from him in coming days and weeks.

A "junk" citation could wind up in city court, but few do, McCollum said. Property owners may curse and complain, but most clean up their yards and avoid a court appearance.

"When you’re written up, you have seven calendar days to clean it up," McCollum said. The next step is a court appearance, he said.

Batesville contractor Pat Bryant said he went "’round and ’round" with the city just a few years ago when he stored construction supplies in and around a rental house located next door to his home on Broad Street. He built a privacy fence, but the complaints continued.

"The fence was probably like putting a Band-Aid on a big cut," admitted Bryant, who eventually tore down the rental home and cleaned the entire lot.

The city’s junk ordinance defines junk as items that are "not able to be used in the manner or for the purposes for which it was designed or constructed, or is inoperative, or is in a state of disrepair, or scrap metal, or is discarded, or is no longer in its original form, or old or scrap copper, brass, rope, rags, batteries, paper, trash, rubber debris, waste, or dismantled or wrecked motor vehicles, or parts thereof, iron, steel, and other old or scrap metals, or motor vehicle (including but not limited to cars, trucks, four wheelers, three wheelers and motorcycles) that is incapable of being moved under its own power or rendered inoperative by reason of a lack of any essential parts such as wheels, tires, motor, radiator, or other essential components."

The junk ordinance was adopted by city officials in June, 2003.

Last year, the Panola County Board of Supervisors looked at a similar ordinance dealing with junk cars and junky property but took no action.

Since 2003, the city’s junk ordinance has led to 299 citations of violations being issued by code enforcement, leading to 577 vehicles being removed from the city.

McCollum said he will "hit the streets" next week with about 25 complaints in hand. He always travels with a police officer to each home, he said.

"We’re really about to get serious around here," said Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey. "(Police Chief) Tony Jones is going after the dopers, and John McCollum is going after the junky property."

Sign variance denied for local Fred’s store
By Jason C. Mattox

A sign variance request for Fred’s Pharmacy was denied by the Batesville Planning Commission during a meeting Monday night.

Paul Williams of Custom Signs was present to formally make the variance request.

"They are putting a drive-thru in for the Fred’s Pharmacy," he said. "And they would like to get a variance to allow for the signage."

The sign would be placed in the middle of the parking lot where the drive-thru will be located.

Williams admitted that Fred’s was already over their signage allotment.

"They know they are already over their allowance without the new sign, and that’s why we are having to request a variance," he said.

Commission chairman Nell Foshee asked how much Fred’s was exceeding the signage allotment.

"They’re over a lot," Williams replied. "I’m not really sure exactly how much they are over."

Commission member Brad Clark acknowledged his disapproval early on during the discussion.

"I am firmly against this," he said. "They are already over the limit and additional signage has already been denied by the city board."

The Batesville Board of Aldermen previously denied a variance request to allow more signage that would have placed the word pharmacy on the building.

"If they want to get rid of some of their existing signage, it might be something we would consider," Clark said. "But they are already well over their limit."

Code Enforcement Office administrator Pam Comer said the planned awning and directional signs were allowed without coming before the commission.

The recommendation of the commission will be presented to aldermen during their next meeting on April 3 and a hearing will be scheduled.

"That is standard procedure," Comer explained in a phone conversation on Tuesday. "Once they have had the hearing, the board will make the final decision."

In other commission business, the allowance of a conditional use permit for the Panola Partnership to operate SpringFest on the Downtown Square May 18-19 will be presented to the board of aldermen at the April 3 meeting at City Hall.


Copyright 2001-2007 by Batesville Newspapers, LLC.  All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission  is prohibited.